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Drying Wood Using Alcohol

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Forum topic by Chris Wright posted 05-29-2009 12:46 AM 5201 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chris Wright

540 posts in 2944 days


05-29-2009 12:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hey everyone, I’ve read a few articles about drying wood using alcohol. Has anyone tried this? How well does it work?

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken


14 replies so far

View ajosephg's profile

ajosephg

1878 posts in 3024 days


#1 posted 05-29-2009 12:55 AM

While I haven’t heard about, my suspicious nature says it would not be a good thing.

Alcohol does absorb water (probably more correctly it adsorbs it), but only the water it comes into contact with, not the water deep inside the wood.

More significantly I’d worry about the solvent properties of alcohol disolving oils and resins in the wood, resulting in a loss of woods good properties.

-- Joe

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a1Jim

115202 posts in 3040 days


#2 posted 05-29-2009 01:02 AM

Hey Chris
I’m not sure it would be worth while to try unless your talking about small pieces of wood and if that’s the case you can just use a micro wave.
Not to be contrary Joe , but I’m pretty sure alcohol is not that harmful to wood because if evaporates so quickly and has been used in shellac for years with out harmful effect to wood that I’m aware of.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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ajosephg

1878 posts in 3024 days


#3 posted 05-29-2009 01:16 AM

Yeah, you may be right, Jim. I was baseing the comment on soaking the wood in alcohol for a long time.

-- Joe

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Chris Wright

540 posts in 2944 days


#4 posted 05-29-2009 02:41 AM

Joe, you’re right, it is for small pieces, and everything I’ve read about it so far deals with turning. The results seem pretty interesting. I was just trying to get some opinions from anyone who might have tried it.

Here’s a few of the articles I’ve read.

Enjoy.

http://alcoholsoaking.blogspot.com/

http://www.wnywoodturners.com/articles/alcodrying/alcodrying.htm

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View lew's profile

lew

11339 posts in 3218 days


#5 posted 05-29-2009 03:25 AM

Check out “Trifern” posts. I think he uses this method.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Bureaucrat's profile

Bureaucrat

18337 posts in 3115 days


#6 posted 05-29-2009 03:43 AM

I can’t believe no one has gone here yet but I’m not above it.

I’ve used alcohol while drying wood. Had no effect on the wood but I felt a lot better. Just kidding.

-- Gary D. Stoughton, WI

View trifern's profile

trifern

8135 posts in 3230 days


#7 posted 05-29-2009 06:20 AM

Drying with denatured alcohol works well. You need to make sure the wall thickness remains consistent. The wood is very stable after it has dried. You won’t notice any difference in the wood characteristics.

Lately I have not been using the alcohol on my projects. I have been focusing on hollow forms. The openings of my vessels are typically between 7/8’ and 1’. Due to the shape of the closed form, using primarily end grain, and turning the wall thickness to 1/8” or less, I just let them dry naturally. I will put a finish on immediately after turning, sanding, and dying. I only put a finish on the outside of the piece. This protects the outside from checking while allowing the wood’s moisture to escape from the inside. The piece will sometimes distort or warp during drying, but I think it gives it an organic look and feel and adds character. Some woods move more than others.

That being said, most of my friends who turn open forms like bowls use the alcohol process exclusively with great results.

Here is the link to my blog about Turning Green.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Tony's profile

Tony

56 posts in 2818 days


#8 posted 05-29-2009 03:15 PM

I have had some success soaking small transverse (cross-section) wood pieces in DNA. Those pieces were up to 8” in diameter and about 1” thick. The best results were with Boxelder, which is an excellent wood for pyrography. Results with Sycamore were mixed. I now have three larger Boxelder slabs soaking. The biggest is an oval cross-section about 16” long and 2” thick. It will soak about 60 days, then dry another 60 days before surfacing. I plan to try this with some Black Cherry, as well.

Tony

View Carlo Robazza's profile

Carlo Robazza

4 posts in 588 days


#9 posted 04-29-2015 05:38 PM

Hi Tony,

How did the long soak go? Do you think you needed 60 days? I’m currently soaking a 3’ diameter by 6” Ash round slab. It’s been soaking 3 days so far and I was thinking of letting it soak for a full week. Here on Lumberjocks, Gary soaked a 13” diameter slab for about 24 hours (http://lumberjocks.com/projects/33996) and that seemed to work for him.

Thanks,

Carlo.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1882 posts in 1597 days


#10 posted 04-29-2015 06:36 PM

Woodturners discuss many approaches to drying wood, alcohol, boiling, microwaving, and soap, etc..

http://www.woodturningonline.com/Turning/Turning_articles.php?catid=30

I think many of those approaches a waste of time because of equipment & material purchases needed. Not to mention learning curve to gain experience with different species of wood! If your happy using anyone of those methods keep on trucking!

Think a homemade kiln about the best approach and will find couple articles on how to build one or using old appliances at site linked or on the web.

As a woodturner who harvests his own wood for turning air drying about the easiest method! Yes, do some rough turning before allowing items to air dry but not every piece of wood collected.

-- Bill

View thechipcarver's profile

thechipcarver

178 posts in 1041 days


#11 posted 05-06-2015 07:06 PM

As a wood carver, I have read some articles about using alcohol/water mixture to soften the wood. It softens the wood long enough to carve and then dries. Only problem is checking. If you don’t use it in the right proportions it will crack.

-- While teaching a class, a gentlemen once asked me: "When chip carving an intricate design, what do you do when you are almost finished and the wood breaks off?" I replied "Cover the kids ears."

View Carlo Robazza's profile

Carlo Robazza

4 posts in 588 days


#12 posted 05-06-2015 07:26 PM

Well, I took my Ash slab out of the alcohol soak last night. I left it in for about 9 days to try to be on the safe side. I lost about 2/3 of the alcohol to evaporation (I could have sealed the “tub” better) and to soaking into the slab. I taped cardboard over the end grain and it’s now in rehab (drying out) in my garage.

Time will tell if it was successful.

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7913 posts in 1843 days


#13 posted 05-07-2015 04:14 AM


Hi Tony,
How did the long soak go?
- Carlo Robazza

This thread is 6 years old and Tony hasn’t posted in 4 years. There is a chance he might respond but you are better off just making a new thread.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Carlo Robazza's profile

Carlo Robazza

4 posts in 588 days


#14 posted 05-07-2015 02:07 PM


This thread is 6 years old and Tony hasn t posted in 4 years. There is a chance he might respond but you are better off just making a new thread.

- Rick M.

Well, i took a chance that he might have had this thread on his watch list, received a notification and responded. I’m documenting my process and when I’m finished, I’ll post it.

Thanks,

Carlo.

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